Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) on Tuesday pushed back against President Trump’s claim that, as president, he has the authority to decide when to lift business closures imposed by governors to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
“It’s the governors that are going to make decisions about when certain activities are allowed. Obviously, it’ll be tough for a governor to do that if the federal government and its experts at the CDC are advising against it,” Rubio said in an interview on CNBC. “But just understand, the people who ordered these shutdowns, it was done at the state level. And that is the appropriate place where I think some of these orders will begin to be modified, but obviously, the guidance from the federal government coming from the White House is going to be very influential.”
Rubio wrote on Twitter, “the Constitution and common sense dictates these decisions be made at the state level.”
Trump on Monday asserted that he had the power to decide when to lift business closures and other restrictions imposed by the states.
“For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government…this is incorrect,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “It is the decision of the President.”
Trump continued on Tuesday to complain his interaction with Democratic governors, saying New York governor Andrew Cuomo had been “begging” for medical supplies from the federal government.
“I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!” Trump tweeted.
“Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all time favorite movies,” the president wrote later Tuesday morning. “A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!”
These statements stand in contrast to Trump’s assertions as recently as Friday, when he said he would rather have governors decide to ease lockdowns.
“I like to allow governors to make decisions without overruling them, because from a constitutional standpoint, that’s the way it should be done,” Trump said at a White House press conference. “If I disagreed, I would overrule a governor, and I have that right to do it… [but] I would rather have them make their decisions.”
The federal government only issued a set of guidelines to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, and the various lockdowns and closures currently in effect across most of the U.S. can only be lifted by state governments, which instituted the closures in the first place. However, it is possible that the federal government could pressure states to lift lockdowns by other means, such as withholding federal funding.